Dear Laurier alumni and friends,
I write this letter to you on the heels of a challenging few weeks at Laurier. Recently, our university’s commitment to freedom of expression was called into question. I assure you that Wilfrid Laurier University unequivocally stands for and supports freedom of expression and academic freedom; it is core to our values. We live it in our classrooms, in our lecture halls, and in the conversations that occur between our students and faculty each and every day. We strive to create environments that are intellectually challenging and filled with critical analysis and diversity of thought and identity, while being free of intolerance and hate.
We are working to improve how we balance freedom of expression with human rights at Laurier and to show leadership on an important issue that is affecting universities across Canada. A task force is being struck to review input from internal and external sources, including our valued alumni, to clearly articulate the university’s position on freedom of expression. We will provide more information about the process as the task force takes shape. Our goal is to find best practices and recommendations we can act upon.
We can and will do better to assure that our faculty and teaching assistants have the supports they need to engage in difficult discussions in class and with each other. Steps are being taken to provide more training for instructors at Laurier and to improve our support processes. We are also conducting a third-party review to look into the meeting held with a teaching assistant and two university faculty members and an administrator, and the steps that led to the meeting. I expect to receive the results from this review by the end of the calendar year and that recommendations will be acted on appropriately.
As Laurier alumni and friends, you know better than anyone that these recent events do not reflect the Laurier you know and love. One situation does not undo a century of great work and enriching experiences. We are fortunate to have such strong and devoted alumni and friends of Laurier who are willing to champion our university. We have work ahead of us yet and I ask for your continued support as we move forward. You can show your support by sharing your Laurier experiences with others just as you always have, by wearing your purple and gold with continued pride, and by staying connected and engaged with us.
As a professor and the leader of this university, providing a learning environment that is intellectually challenging and respects diversity of thought is central to my own values and I will continue to listen to what people have to say on this and other topics. Please visit wlu.ca/freedom-of-expression for the latest information we have to share. If you wish to connect further on this issue, please do so through firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-884-6472.
As our alumni and friends, you are valued members of our community and, at Laurier, our community has always been our strength.
Dr. Deborah MacLatchy
President and Vice-Chancellor